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St. Charles IL family law attorneyWhile older children typically understand the concept of divorce, younger children often struggle to grasp how their parents’ divorce will affect their everyday lives. They may not even fully comprehend that divorce means one parent will be living at a different home. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding can make coping with the divorce that much more difficult for the child. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand how you can help your child as you and your family go through the divorce process.

Talk to Children’s Health Professionals

A mental health professional, such as a child or family therapist, can offer insight into how your child may cope with the divorce, as well as your child’s level of understanding about the process. They can advise you regarding how to best support your child and stay alert for signs that the child is struggling, and they can also meet with your child to help him or her process feelings about the divorce. Your child’s pediatrician can also help you understand how the divorce may affect the child’s physical health and offer guidance regarding how you can continue to provide for your child’s growth and development needs, including adequate sleep and nutrition.

Check Out Children’s Books on Divorce

The increased prevalence of divorce means there are more resources than ever before for parents. In fact, parents can now find children’s books that address the subject. Such books tend to explain divorce using stories that children can relate to and easily understand. They also focus on the complex feelings that go along with a divorce, such as fear, guilt, and anger. Overall, they can give your child a better grasp of the situation, what is to come, and how he or she can cope.

St. Charles IL family law attorneyIt is one thing to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. However, telling your children that you and their other parent will be divorcing is another thing altogether. While parents are likely to worry about how their divorce will affect their children, it can actually be the best option for both the adults and children. Rather than experiencing regular conflict and tension between parents, children can benefit from growing up in a less stressful environment. When breaking the news of divorce, parents will want to approach the conversation in a way that helps children understand and prepare for how their lives will change.

Talking to Younger Children

The approach to telling your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce is going to differ depending on their ages. A younger child may have a harder time understanding what a divorce means, but they could have an easier time adjusting to the change. If your children are far apart in age, you may wish to discuss the divorce with each of them separately. 

There is no definitive guide for telling your child about your divorce. Every family is different, and every child will have a different level of emotional intelligence. That said, here are some tips that may help you talk about getting a divorce with your school-aged children:

St. Charles IL divorce lawyerAfter a divorce, Illinois law permits a parent to move with their children to a new location within 25 miles of their current home in the counties surrounding Chicago, or within 50 miles of their current home anywhere else in the state, in some cases even across state lines. Relocations of a greater distance are sometimes possible with the approval of the court. However, regardless of your intended destination, a move can create significant stress for your children.

Factors to Consider Before Making the Decision to Move

If you are preparing for a divorce and are considering the possibility of moving with your child after the split, it is wise to explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of making yet another big change in the midst of the end of your marriage. On one hand, the idea of starting over and tackling all of the transitions at once can be appealing, but moving directly after the divorce can also trigger some less appealing side effects, especially where the children are concerned. 

Before you commit to moving after your divorce, here are some things to think about: 

How to Help Your Children Prepare for Relocation After DivorceMoving to a new town or state can be hard for children under any circumstances, as they try to adjust to a new school, new friends, and a new routine. It can be even more difficult after a divorce, since children may be moving a significant distance away from one of their parents. If you are a single parent and your career or personal circumstances require relocation, you should be aware of the potential impact the move will have on your kids and do all that you can to make the situation easier for them.

Advice for Helping Your Children Cope

Relocations are usually easier for children if both parents make an effort to help them cope with the situation and maintain consistency as much as possible. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Modify Your Parenting Plan: In many cases, the parenting plan established during your divorce does not account for a relocation. If you are the custodial parent and you decide that relocation is necessary, you are required by Illinois law to notify the children’s other parent. If they agree to allow your relocation, you should work together to legally modify the parenting plan including any changes to parenting time and responsibilities. If they disagree, a court will have to rule on the relocation and updated parenting plan based on whether it is in the children’s best interests. In either case, having a clear parenting plan in writing that addresses the relocation can make it easier to uphold your children’s routine.
  2. Listen to Your Children’s Concerns: Your kids will likely have many questions about your upcoming move, including why it is happening, what their new home will be like, and whether they will continue to see their other parent. Be open to having these important conversations with your children, and do your best to acknowledge their feelings, answer their questions honestly, and help them understand.
  3. Plan for Their Next Stay with the Other Parent: When moving a long distance from a non-custodial parent, children may naturally fear that they will see the parent much less often. You can help alleviate this fear even before you move if both parents have conversations with the kids to plan for their next stay. You can also take advantage of technology to plan for frequent phone or video conversations when it is difficult to have regular time in person.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney Today

At Goostree Law Group, we have decades of experience guiding parents and families through divorce and the accompanying challenges, and we can help you plan for relocation in a way that protects the interests of you and your children. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation with a St. Charles family law attorney who can answer your questions.

Your Children Are Not Messengers When Co-ParentingCommunicating with your co-parent after a divorce can feel uncomfortable, even if you did not separate on bad terms. You need to stay in contact with each other to discuss issues related to your children. For some parents, having a child act as a messenger seems like a natural solution to the problem. After all, your child sees both of you regularly. However, any parenting expert will tell you that using your child as a messenger for your parenting discussions is unhealthy for them, no matter how old they are or mature they may seem.

Problems

Asking your child to deliver a message to your co-parent is forcing them to become a player in your co-parenting drama. You may think that it is benign to send a simple message, such as that you will be late in picking up the children next week. By tasking your child to deliver a message:

  • They receive your co-parent’s negative reaction to the news and perceive that the reaction is directed towards them
  • They are exposed to details of the conflicts between you and your co-parent that they should not know
  • They may forget to tell your co-parent and feel guilty about failing their task

In a similar vein to using your child as a messenger, you should not ask your child to spy on your co-parent and report back to you. You put them in the unwinnable position of either betraying their other parent or disobeying you.

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